McClellen-Palomar Airport consider changes to runway

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego County supervisors directed staff Wednesday to consider moving and extending the runway at McClellen-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, which would improve the facility’s usefulness.

The Board of Supervisors chose from among three options for a new master plan to guide development of the general aviation airfield over the next two decades.

McClellan-Palomar Airport is currently rated as a B-II class facility by the Federal Aviation Administration, meaning it can accommodate approach speeds and wingspans of midsize business jets. However, county staff said a significant number of larger jets are using the airport, which is near a center of high tech businesses and ritzy Rancho Santa Fe.

The supervisors unanimously accepted a staff recommendation for a modified step up to a class — C/D-III — that would allow for physical changes to better provide for the larger aircraft.

The staff recommendation doesn’t exactly fit existing federal criteria, so the county would have to seek an FAA waiver.

Among other things, the single runway would be shifted to the north by 123 feet to increase separation from the main parallel taxiway.

The estimated $73 million in upgrades could also lead to a runway extension of up to 800 feet. Some aircraft now using McClellan-Palomar can’t take off fully loaded and fully fueled.

A 2013 feasibility study found that a 900-foot extension could add more than $162 million in economic benefits to the region over 20 years.

Staff also said an extension to the east would let many aircraft take off earlier, thereby reducing noise in neighborhoods to the west of the runway, which would maintain its 150-foot width.

With the supervisors’ approval in hand, staff will conduct environmental studies that will look at noise effects and various runway lengths. They’re scheduled to return with a full master plan and draft environmental impact report in early 2017.

"I think this is moving the process along, we’re going to find out what the impacts are and then we can make a decision (on airport plans) at that point,” Supervisor Dave Roberts said.

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